White House hits back at Stefanik after she blasts Biden in Israel

White House hits back at Stefanik after she blasts Biden in Israel

The White House hit back against House Republican Conference Chair Elise Stefanik’s (R-N.Y.) speech before the Israeli government’s legislative body on Sunday, when she attacked President Biden for his policy approach to Israel and the war in Gaza.

In a statement, White House spokesperson Andrew Bates reaffirmed Biden’s “ironclad” support for Israel’s security and said, “There has been no better friend to Israel than President Biden.”

“He was the first American president to visit Israel during war time — in the aftermath of the horrific October 7th terrorist attacks — and the first president to order the U.S. military to defend Israel from a foreign nation’s attack,” Bates added.

Bates sharply criticized Stefanik for not speaking out against former President Trump in the aftermath of the Oct. 7 attacks, when Trump accused Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of “letting us down” in 2020 before the U.S. killed a top Iranian general.

Trump, in the week after the Oct. 7 attacks, also suggested that the Biden administration and Israeli leaders’ public discussions helped Hezbollah plan further attacks on Israel. In a subsequent interview, he said Israel “wouldn’t have had to be prepared” if he were in the White House and called Israel’s defense minister a “jerk.”

“Unlike some figures on the right, President Biden did not rail against the Israeli government in the days after October 7, nor has he ever praised terrorist organizations like Hezbollah — and he will not be lectured by any person who was silent in the face of those offensive statements.

“What’s more, no one should ever confuse January 6th convicts who assaulted police officers with the innocent hostages brutally taken captive by Hamas on October 7th,” Bates added, referring to Stefanik’s use of the phrase “hostages” to refer to jailed Jan. 6 rioters who were convicted on related charges.

Trump was first to refer to convicted rioters as “hostages” — a term most closely associated with the nearly 250 hostages taken from their homes during Hamas’s deadly attack on Israel on Oct. 7, 2023.

Stefanik — who became the highest-ranking House member to travel to Israel since Hamas’s Oct. 7 attack on Israel — specifically criticized Biden for pausing some weapons shipments to Israel, over concerns about the planned operation in Gaza.

The Biden administration faced scrutiny over the pause, which halted the transfer of some 3,500 heavy bombs to Israel as the Israel Defense Forces were gearing up to advance their operation in the south and central part of Gaza. The White House later said it plans to move $1 billion in weapons to Israel.

“I have been clear at home and I will be clear here: There is no excuse for an American president to block aid to Israel — aid that was duly passed by the Congress, or to ease sanctions on Iran, paying a $6 billion ransom to the world’s leading state sponsor of terror, or to dither and hide while our friends fight for their lives,” Stefanik said in prepared remarks before her address on Sunday.

“No excuse. Full stop,” she added. “It’s why I have sponsored, or backed, every measure to aid Israel that has come before the U.S. Congress. Every single one.”

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